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I thought the clinic’s counsellor was going to ask us to reduce the level of noise, but instead she told me, “That boy, I’ve never seen him smile before… never.”

The whole previous day we had been singing, drumming, playing music loud through a speaker, just next to the counselling wing. Her response was not about that, it was about health.

Last week in Kampala, Uganda, Musicians Without Borders began a new partnership with Keep a Child Alive and Alive Medical Services, called ‘Community Music for Community Health’. We spent the week working with thirty young people who will become Community Music Leaders at Alive Medical Services. They will learn to use music to support the health of over 1000 children and youth living with the effects of HIV.

To support the team of thirty young community musicians, we will employ Ugandan musicians to provide on-going training in traditional music, hip-hop and instruments.

Fred Mbalu, leading Ugandan dance

The project replicates the successes of our team’s work in Rwanda, and employs Rwandan Community Music Leaders as assistant trainers in Uganda – facilitating cultural exchange, and ensuring the project is embedded in the region.

The week of training culminated at Alive Medical Services’ youth day, and the opportunity for the trainees to practice their new skills. They led music with their community; singing, dancing, laughing. I thought it may have been challenging, and asked them for feedback: “Next time can we organise it so we have the whole day to make music with the children?”